Government Statistician, Prof. Samuel Annim Kobina, has stated that the upcoming Population and Housing Census (PHC) is going to boost the local economy in terms of investment being channeled into such areas.
According to him, the census exercise ensures that everything takes place at the local level. As a result, it will spark some level of vibrancy in some of the deprived areas in the country.
“This is an activity that will more or less boost the local economy in several respects. Don’t forget it’s an exercise that will ensure that everything that we do is at the local level. Recruitment and services are at the local level. So, at the minimum, it will bring some vibrancy in very deprived economies”.
Also, he indicated that there is the need to look at the relationship between population growth and other key economic indicators; for example, GDP and per capita GDP.
He educated that the census will aid the computation of the per capita GDP which is useful in several instances. However, he indicated that over the past 10 years, the Service has relied on projections so, after the census, the country will get the real sense of its per capita GDP that will aid decision making.
Nevertheless, he lamented that the country’s population growth has not been in consonant with its per capita income over the years.
According to him, this makes it very difficult to get the true sense of the state of wellbeing of the economy.
“If you look at the growth in the population, it is not consistent with our per capita GDP”.
Other benefits of the PHC
Additionally, the GSS Boss highlighted other benefits of undertaking the census exercise even though the country is still not COVID-free.
According to him, despite COVID-19, the current census presents an opportunity for the country to update its data.
He stressed that it will help policy makers make informed and more realistic decisions based on more accurate and realistic data rather on projections.
More importantly, he noted that it is not ideal for the census to go beyond the 10-year interval.
“You are using at best three indicators to inform your population projections. So, once you do a population census, you use fertility, mortality and migration theoretically to project your population to the 10th period.
“Unfortunately for us as a country, we have been using only fertility and mortality because of the weak data on migration from administration sources to do our population projections. By the fifth to the 10th year, the robustness of these variables would have weakened; the indicators that you are using will have lost their reliability”.
Also, he noted that the population projections are unable to forecast certain key indicators.
For instance, projections of the areas on economic activity adding that, these are economic indicators that are based on certain information other than fertility, mortality and migration.
First Digital Census
Furthermore, he noted that this is the first digital census and his outfit believes it will produce more reliable data that will aid policy formulation and implementation. He pointed out that one of the things the current census seeks to avoid is “double counting”.
Meanwhile, Prof. Annim hinted of the possibility of the Service conducting an online or telephone-based census in the future. However, he believes there are lot of things that must be put in place before such a system can be rolled out.
“Until we get our addressing system well-standardized across the country… Until we get to a point where we can do all these things by ourselves, I don’t think we are there yet as a country”.
Cost of the PHC
Also, touching on the cost of the census, the Government Statistician explained that the initial cost of the census was GH¢477 million.
However, the Service has revised the cost upwards to GH¢521.3 million due to the additional costs related to the COVID-19. He, however, believes the census is not too costly as some people have alleged.
Moreover, he stressed that census goes beyond counting. He educated that the census is essential because it enables the country to update its demographic characteristics.
Also, it helps to update the knowledge on the level of economic activity in the country. Additionally, it helps to update information on housing and sanitation.
According to him, the census data will be relevant to all in the economy, including the private sector actors.